Several thousand gay rights supporters gathered around the state Capitol on Saturday, taking part in the 29th annual Sacramento Pride parade and festival on Capitol Mall.
The event, organized by the Sacramento LGBT Community Center, comes as the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to rule on the legality of Proposition 8, a 2008 ballot measure passed by California voters that amended the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage.
Though the atmosphere Saturday was largely festive, a measure of uncertainty lingered in the air.
"It's anybody's guess," said Pam Whiteley, co-president of PFLAG Parent, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays when asked what ruling might be passed down.
Whiteley, 67, who is straight, said the country is at a crossroads in terms of gay rights.
Parade watchers and participants started congregating near the Capitol as early as 9 a.m., with many hoping to get a front row seat for the parade, which at times became boisterous.
Many in the crowd were decidedly younger.
"There's definitely a generational gap," said Isabel DiPirro, 18, who is straight.
The Sacramentan came with three lesbian friends. "Older people grew up with a different mentality and view," DiPirro said.
Doug Hammerich, 68, stood on a corner at Seventh and N streets, watching the parade with his partner, Ron Holloway, 81.
The Citrus Heights couple said much has changed since their relationship started in 1975.
"Gay marriage wasn't spoken of (then)," Hammerich said, noting that without a marriage certificate, he and his partner weren't eligible for tax deductions and other benefits. "We had to spend a lot of money to get our finances taken care of," he said.
Proposition 8 was first struck down by U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker in 2010, and his ruling was affirmed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Proponents of traditional marriage then decided to take their case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
While gay rights supporters hope the high court will make a sweeping ruling that would allow gay marriage nationally, legal experts say that is unlikely.
They argue that gay marriage has become a states' rights issue, and the Supreme Court would be unwilling to make such a broad ruling.
But gay rights supporters haven't given up hope.
"Equality for all," said Monica Levin, who brought her son and daughter to watch the parade. "The country has come far, but we're not quite there yet."
Still, the United States is ahead of other countries, including China, according to Annie Tang, 24, an international student from Liaoning province in northern China.
The Cosumnes River College student expressed surprise with how open people are in the United States.
"There are gays in China, but no one talks about them," Tang said.
Call The Bee's Richard Chang, (916) 321-1018. Follow him on Twitter @RichardYChang.